The holiday season is a crucial time for sellers on Amazon, and most sellers know optimizing your Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) strategy is key to ensuring smooth operations and maintaining customer satisfaction. But did you know that having the option for Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) can also be instrumental for your business strategy, especially in critical times such as Q4, if managed correctly? In this guide, we'll explore ten valuable tips to enhance your FBM experience, from customizing notification options to navigating order handling capacity and addressing potential pitfalls so that you can capitalize on these strategies, maximizing the potential of Fulfillment by Merchant to edge out the competition during this bustling holiday season.
To supplement this guide, check out our Holiday Tips Part 3 Video of AO2 Account Manager Michael Childers’ insights for optimizing your Q4 with FBM offers below:
Section 1: Notification Customization for Enhanced Awareness
To kick things off, head to Seller Central and navigate to Settings --> Notification Preferences. Here, you can tailor your notification options to receive text and email alerts for FBM orders. Proactive monitoring is the first step toward efficient order management.
Section 2: Daily Dashboard Check-Ins
While notification settings are crucial, there's no substitute for regular check-ins on your Seller Central FBM orders dashboard. Establish a routine of reviewing orders each morning and afternoon, particularly one hour before carrier pickups. This practice ensures timely responses to any emerging issues and keeps your fulfillment process running smoothly.
Section 3: Monitoring Account Health for Peak Performance
During high-sales periods, keeping a close eye on your Account Health metrics is essential. Monitor late shipment rates, pre-fulfillment cancellation rates, valid tracking rates, and on-time delivery rates.
If account health levels dip, this can negatively impact Featured Offer eligibility, the ability to ship in product, and even your ability to continue selling on the platform. Proactively address any issues to maintain a healthy account status and customer satisfaction.
Section 4: Setting Order Handling Capacity
Accurately set your Order Handling Capacity to reflect the number of seller-fulfilled orders you can ship in a day. This ensures that, in the event of a sudden spike in orders, Amazon automatically adjusts additional orders to allow for an extra handling day, preventing fulfillment delays. Order Handling Capacity is found in Seller Central under Shipping Settings, on the General Shipping Setting tab, which is also where you can manage shipping addresses, standard operating days, holidays, and more!
Section 5: Fine-Tuning Delivery Promises
Ensure your delivery promises align with your actual shipping capabilities. Review shipping templates to verify transit times or opt to use Shipping Settings automation cautiously, as it may generate inaccurate delivery estimates leading to increased lead times and decreased sales conversions.
Section 6: Order Cut-Off Times and Handling Time Adjustments
Revisit your Order Cut-Off times, found on the same page as your General Shipping Settings above, considering carrier pickup or package drop-off times which are automatically set to 2 pm local time daily. Adjust as needed to manage the flow of orders expected to ship on a given day.
Additionally, consider taking advantage of SKU-level handling time adjustments, allowing for flexibility in meeting customer expectations. By default, all items are set to 1 day handling for most Professional sellers (depending on when you created your account) and can be edited to reflect anything from same day up to 30 days.
Section 7: Utilizing Vacation Settings or SKU-Level Handling Time
During holiday breaks, Amazon suggests you utilize vacation settings to temporarily deactivate your listings and halt new orders for periods when you or your warehouse will be unavailable to process orders.
Section 8: Use Amazon Buy Shipping Labels for Performance Optimization
Consider using Amazon Buy Shipping labels to benefit from pre-negotiated rates and protect your account performance metrics. This option is particularly advantageous during the holiday season and can contribute to a smoother fulfillment process than shipping on your own, because Buy Shipping provides these benefits and protections:
Section 9: User Permissions for Tracking Updates
If you choose to handle shipping independently and update tracking information, ensure that your team has the correct permissions. Overlooking this crucial detail can lead to confusion and potential account health issues, as demonstrated by a real-life scenario from an AO2 Management client last year.
A cautionary tale: In 2022, a client opted not to use Buy Shipping for their FBM orders, so they had to complete the critical step of adding tracking to each order in Seller Central. However, the user assigned to this role had limited permissions and could not access the page to complete this function. Unfortunately, instead of indicating the user didn’t have authorization to access the page, it simply appeared there were no orders requiring tracking updates. Assuming there was a glitch on Amazon’s side, the team opened cases to address the issue. Meanwhile, late shipments piled up. In some cases, shoppers even requested cancellations under the impression that their order was still unshipped and the Seller could not recoup the costs or products! After too many late shipments, their Account Health score dropped, and they lost eligibility for the Featured Offer on all their products.
Section 10: FBM as a backup method
Even if FBM isn’t your normal fulfillment method, it’s a great option to keep open for the last few shipping days before the holidays. Once your FBA inventory runs out, it might be too late to replenish in time for Christmas delivery, but if you have inventory in your own warehouse, you can keep the sales going! Consider an FBM SKU to fill the gaps in supply and capture some last-minute sales for 2023.
By implementing these FBM tips, you can navigate the holiday season with confidence, ensuring a seamless fulfillment process and maintaining a positive account health status. Proactive monitoring, thoughtful customization, and strategic adjustments will contribute to a successful and stress-free holiday for both sellers and customers alike.